he was an experienced social worker, an ambitious in your face new deal reformer, but he preferred the company of the rich and the wellborn. they said he had a mind like a razor, and a tongue like a skinning knife. a new yorker profile described him as a purveyor of with an anecdote. he loved to tell stories of the time when roosevelt wheeled himself into churchill's bedroom unannounced. this is a time when churchill was living at the white house. and the prime minister had just emerged from his afternoon bath,
gleaming pink, starkness, he gave the president a full shot, frontal shot. the president was embarrassed and started to back out. think nothing of it, thundered churchill. the prime minister has nothing to hide, from the president of the united states. hopkins, whether true or not, some say it's not, hopkins behind out on that story for years. he was a gambler on horses and cars, even the time of day. married three times, between the second and third marriages, he dated glamorous womenhave movie stars like paulette goddard,
actress dorothy hale, who actually she jumped from her apartment in new york to her death, allegedly because she had been jilted by harry hopkins. the former paris editor of the harper's bazaar, who he married actually on the second floor of the white house the summer of 1942. he regarded money, his own and other people's as something to be spent as quickly as possible. to put people into two categories. talkers and doers. and harry was definitely a do or. so the hopkins touch, the book, begins on may 10, 1940, and that
was a year and half before the united states get into the second world war. it was a day when the germans overran the low countries and hitler's panzer division of tanks were masked in our dense forests, poised to invade luxembourg and france. it was a day that winston churchill became prime minister of great britain. and within a few weeks the rest of europe would be under the nazi. on that day, actually evening, the roosevelt and hopkins were upstairs in the white house. they just finished dinner. they were in the oval study, and as usual, bantering, telling
stories back and forth, laughing at each other's jokes. at that time, harry was 49 and the president was 57. they had known each other for a decade. eleanor roosevelt had consoled harry, following the death of his second wife, barbara in 1937, of breast cancer. and since that time, mrs. roosevelt, the first lady, had been surrogate mother of harry's young daughter, diana, aged seven, who is in virginia right now. and so by that time harry was almost a part of the roosevelt family, and he was at that time the closest adviser and friend. and if anybody could be a confidence of roosevelt, he was. -- be a confidant of roosevelt,
he was. the president said -- sensed harry was not feeling well that evening. he knew that hopkins had had some say two-thirds, of the stomach removed at the mayo clinic because diagnosed at the time with cancer. this was about two years before 1940. and so since that time, harry, as the president knew, had been unable to regain any weight. he was clearly malnourished. something was terribly wrong with his digestive system. so the president said, he insisted that his friend stay upstairs for the night in the white house. so kerry was the man who came to dinner, and he never left.
he stayed in the southeast corner of the white house in the lincoln room for three and a half years, lived there, just a couple doors down from the president's bedroom. and his daughter, diana, lived on the third floor near the sky parlor, for the whole three and half years, until the end of 1943. and actually he lived, hopkins lived in the lincoln room, which was the room that lincoln used as his office during the civil war, the room that was often depicted in the recent lincoln movie. so what you did was he just set up a card table in that room, and he didn't have a title or a particular portfolio, but he set up a card table and started doing business with the president. obviously, available 24/7. so when the nation was drawn
into the war during those years, harry would devote his life, and literally his life, helping the president when the war. and he was shortly form what turned out to be a lifelong friendship with winston and clementine churchill. and he would even earned a measure of respect from joseph stalin, the brutal dick tater of the soviet union. so, what was it about harry that enabled him to climb to the pinnacle of wartime diplomacy? his origin gives you a few clues. he was born in iowa, the son, of an itinerant -- [inaudible] with
champagne taste. his father, al, traveled the midwest, and gambling on bowling matches of all things. his father was a ferociously competitive bulwar boulder. but his mother, anna, was a strict churchgoing methodist and i believe in social justice and helping the poor. and it was his mother who insisted that the family settle down in grinnell iowa, the home of grinnell college. and so for harry, grinnell was foundational. it had an amazingly impressive faculty at the time. many of which were devoted to what was then called the social
gospel movement, the idea that the principles of christianity could be applied to solve all the nations social ills. and harry graduated in 1912 from grinnell, and he followed in the footsteps of his sister. he became a social worker, and his first job was at the settlement house in the lower east side of manhattan, in the neighborhood where the largest concentration of immigrants in the united states lived. and for the next 20 years, beginning in 1912, he rose to leadership positions in a whole number of social service and social welfare agencies, providing disaster assistance in the deep south, relief the
servicemen and their families during world war i. unemployment and jobs programs, and then heading up a huge health care organization in new york city that provided health care services to the poor. so by the mid-to late 1920s, he was among the most famous social workers in america. he cofounded the american association of social workers. but as he rose to the top of his succession, his marriage, his first marriage began to lose its stages. he married couple gross in 1913, she was a hungarian born u.s. woman who was brought up in a tenement right near the house, but she had been men toward by
many of the women sort of at the top of the new york social scale on the far liberal side. and she was committed to the social causes of the day, as was harry. they raised three sons, but around 1926 or 27, based on letters and so forth, it appears that harry felt she was too needy and too clingy, and besides, he had inherited his father's champagne taste. he hung out at night at the speakeasy in new york with his pals. he gambled, borrowed a lot of money. he had a strong addiction to english romantic poets, had an affair with a woman in his office, fell in love, and then he hired a psychoanalyst in
1929, who he thought could help them get talked out of this love affair, but nothing worked. he was on the verge of bankruptcy, and so in despair and with the onset of the great depression, he divorced apple, leaving her to raise the three boys and his divorce decree provided half the seller, if he had a salad with goat to for. but in a sense, the depression was a godsend for harry, because that's what introduced into rankling and eleanor roosevelt, you know, and that's what enabled him and his new wife, he married barbara, the woman from the office, and they moved down to washington, d.c. so there you have unemployment in america at
25%. the new president, franklin roosevelt 1933, hired gary to head up the first of his jobs programs. , culminating with him as leader of the wga which was a work in progress administration. the centerpiece of the new deal. whose mission was to put americans back to work on public works and infrastructure projects. sounds kind of familiar. and so, sort of surviving on cigarettes and coffee and looking as if he slept in office at night, which he often did, harry and his staff received spectacular results, as head of the wpa, they put a tif money
people back to work and pumped $10 billion into the economy. and then once again harry became one of the most visible members of the roosevelt administration and the new deal. he was on the cover of "time" magazine twice. he hung out with the kennedys and the hairy men's and others. in 1938-1939 with the president encouragement, i have notes on this, harry began promoting himself as a presidential candidate, looking to the election in 1940. the president gave encouraging and at least a farm in iowa, of course. but his hopes were dashed in hundreds of newspapers began reporting the story about a comment that he allegedly made
to a friend at the racetrack, which did not put the administration in a good light, a comment attributed to him was, we shall tax and tax, spend and spend. whether true or not of course he denied it. it stuck with him for the rest of his life, and it became a rallying cry for those who hated the roosevelt and the new deal. and if that wasn't enough, in september 1939 when the war broke out in europe, harry found himself back at the mayo clinic. and the doctors had ruled out recovering cancer but they couldn't figure out why he was unable to absorb nutrients. so they came up with intravenous
feedings, blood transfusions, injection of liver extract, a combination which he had administered to him off and on for the rest of his life. and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. but for the rest of his life, he was unable to gain weight. his digestive system, i'll leave it to the doctors to figure it out, his digestive system was a mess. sometimes he was on the verge of starvation. so in the spring of 1940, before he moved into the white house, just before, he was at his little house in georgetown on industry, and -- in street, a rented house with his daughter diana, still recovering, and the president had some challenges on his mind. the president knew that hitler
would soon come the phony war would soon end and hitler would turn to the west and envelop the rest of europe and threatened to invade, if not invade the british islands. and in the far east, japan was on the march, aggressively on the march. the national security of the united states was gravely threatened. and the country, of course, was hopelessly isolationist at the time. so the democratic convention was scheduled to start july of 1940 in chicago. the president had to decide whether he would run for an unprecedented third term, that time the constitution did not prohibit it. or whether he would essentially politically step aside and become a lame duck.
think the president thought th that, well, the depression at that point was by no means over. the new deal had not solved the depression. unemployment was still running at 16%. the president believed that he had an opportunity to come to achieve greatness as a wartime president. he knew the war was coming. so these thoughts were on his mind at night up may 10, 1940. when he asked hopkins to live just a few doors down from him. and so what was it that caused the president to initiate such an intimate relationship with his advisor? a number of things. the first came from roosevelt himself. after he won the election,
wendell willkie, we become was in his office, and they remained friends. and willkie said to the president, why do you keep that man so close to your? batman being hopkins. wilke did not like hopkins and roosevelt said community, you may be in this office someday and you will understand, but he asks nothing except to serve me. and by that time hopkins had set aside his personal and political agenda. and secondly roosevelt drew him close it has he -- hopkins had superb judgment and razor-sharp political instinct. hopkins had a linear way of thinking, and roosevelt was a visionary. has odds were vague and disconnected. hopkins could translate
roosevelt of visions into concrete action. roosevelt knew that. and then he had a contempt for bureaucracy, cut through red tape. and then he had these enormously helpful political connections. because he was handing out jobs during the depression, harry knew the big city bosses. he knew the mayors. he knew the governors. and then another major reason why they were so close. this is the key to their relationship i think. that hopkins could read the president's mood, unlike anyone else. he came as close as anyone to gain admittance into what robert sherwood called roosevelt heavily forced interior.
unlike mrs. roosevelt, he knew when to be still in the presence of the president, when to press him for when to back off and tell jokes. and then they were close because hopkins was just great company. roosevelt loved to be around him. he was a window in the world that roosevelt could not have it because of his paralysis. so hopkins and come back at night to manhattan or washington and regale the president, he would dish the gossip from the great country houses where he stayed during the weekend. churchill used to say that hopkins had the gift of sardonic humor. he was very funny, and you know,
artistic kind of way. and then finally they were close because they were each shared a disability that, on the one hand, handicap, and on the other hand, in poverty. roosevelt knew what courage it took for hopkins to work under the great pressure that he worked with essentially a dysfunctional digestive system. so, as that year in 1940, the fateful year 1940 came to a close, hopkins had been living in the white house for eight months. by that time he becomes virtually indispensable. during the summer of 1940 he moved to chicago, at the democratic convention. he orchestrated the draft that
led to the president being nominated for his third term on the democratic ticket. then he went to new york, put together the fall campaign, particularly the speech writing team, famous speech writing team of sam, robert and, of course, harry hopkins. when the election was over, in early december 1940, hopkins and roosevelt left washington, just the two of them, and they boarded a navy cruiser called the tuscaloosa. and a cruise in the caribbean. that's why they came up with the idea of, the idea that the united states, the arsenal of democracy, it would supply the countries fighting germany with war materials that they needed, and they wouldn't have to pay until after the war was over.
on the last day of 1940, london was burning. the citizens of london had endured that point for straight months of almost nightly bombing raids by fleets of german bombers, bombing unrestricted late over the city of london. thousands of civilians had been killed. hitler's armies were just across the channel, 20 miles across the channel, ready to invade when britain broke. on december 29, 1940, the largest single attack of the blitz, when hundreds of bombers, german bombers, vectored by radio beam onto st. paul's cathedral. they dropped millions of incendiaries around the old cathedral in the city. on new year's eve, the city was burning and churchill drafted
the cable to roosevelt. dear mr. president, i do not know what is in your mind, and i do not know what america plans to do. but we are fighting for our lives. 10 days later, january 10, 1941, hopkins found himself in a basement of number 10 downing street, churchill's resident, the prime minister's residence having lunch alone with winston churchill. the windows of the house, the old house had been blown out upstairs. that's why they were in the basement. and that was an amazing two or
three hour liquefied lunch that the two of them had. but of that, when churchill wrote, let me see if i can remember his words. he said, he said best, i met harry hopkins, that extraordinary man who played and was played, a sometimes decisive part in the whole movement of the war. and then he said, his was the sole that flamed out of a body. he was a crumbling white house. these are churchill's words, from which they are shown great beams that led great fleets to harbor. i always enjoy his company, he said, especially when things went bill. he could be very disagreeable and say hard and solid innings.
churchill's words. not known to be an understate or. so hopkins laid the groundwork for an incredibly important special relationship with churchill. and then, a few days later, still in england, actually scotland, a few days later he cemented a relationship with the british people. there was a big dinner at the station house hotel in glasgow scotland, and lots of dignitaries were there. churchill was there. hopkins was at the head table. and asked him to say a few words to the crowd. so he rose and he raised his glass, looking frail and tired,
unkempt, he said i suppose you wish to know what i plan to tell the president when i return to the united states. well, i will court you one first -- one verse, and then the famous verse whether thou goest, i will go. by people shall be my people. by god, by god, he post even to the end. now, churchill was brought to tears but that wasn't a hard thing to do for churchill. these like john boehner. >> guest.[laughter] but the important thing is that his words spread throughout
great britain, particularly that phrase, even to the end. so he threw a lifeline to the british people, and they never forgot him. during that time he was within england, the first time, genuine favorite 1941, six weeks he stayed, and then in subsequent visits to the country during the war, harry would live on most weekends with winston and clementine churchill at their country house, the prime minister's country house, checkers. and clementine was famous for not being prone to get along with people that she did not know. very discriminating. but she got along famously, she loved harry from the very beginning. she loved his offbeat
she did. and she was particularly entranced by hopkins' touch with her grumpy, often-grumpy husband. he could poke fun at the prime minister without offending him. one morning churchill turned to hopkins and said this water tastes funny, and hopkins said, of course it does, it's got no whiskey in it. [laughter] fancy you, a judge of water. [laughter] and then, you know, he would do these things like dash off an odd note to winston churchill saying, dear winston, happy birthday. how old are you anyway? that's the kind of guy he was. there was, there was another
dinner at claire in the west end of london. it was hosted by the leaders of the british press, the publishers, the editors, the distinguished writers. churchill wasn't there. hopkins was the guest of honor. and so they, the journalists observed what he looked like and what he said, and he was asked to make some after-dinner remarks, and he went around the table speaking softly, looking, as they said, shy and untidy. and he gave them the sense that while america was not yet in the war, she was marching beside them and the british people. and then one of the journalists wrote we were happy men, all.
our courage and our confidence had been stimulated by a contact which shakespeare in henry very had a phrase: -- henry v had a phrase. in july of 1941 harry would be sent on an incredibly dangerous 24-hour flight from scotland north around the north cape of norway and then down into a we sieged moscow. and atta time the german divisions were marching along the same route that napoleon took if 1812 on their way to the gates of moscow. they were, the german divisions were not just -- they were capturing red army soldiers not
just by the thousands, but often by the hundreds of thousands. they seemed unstoppable. so, and the germans were bombing thety at night. so -- the city at night. so hopkins spent two very long evenings in the kremlin alone except for interpreters with josef stalin. that was the first time, of course, he'd met him. and hopkins told stalin that the united states was prepared to give the soviet union whatever they needed, whatever they could get there, whatever they needed to hold off the germans. no strings attached, no questions asked. he'd be criticized for that later. but from that point forward, stalin, stalin gave whenever he
saw hopkins, you could tell that he respected him, he conferred on him a measure of respect and might have even conferred a bit of trust, although that's hard to tell with stalin. but he, when he saw stalin at -- when he saw hopkins at tehran, he walked across the room. stalin never did that for anybody. walked across the room to meet hopkins. and he told people that hopkins spoke, i won't be able to say this in russian the right way -- [speaking in native tongue] which was translated to mean according to the soul. and in russia that was a peculiarly important -- excuse me -- important accolade that denoted depth and strength of character and compassion.
so hopkins saw that the key to victory, this was his focus throughout the war, the key to victory was holding together the coalition, the three-party coalition of stalin,ture kill and roosevelt -- churchill and roosevelt. and that was his focus for the rest of the war. churchill used to be in awe of hopkins' focus. he would joke that hopkins was a member of the peerage. he would call him lord root of the manor. so there's a lot more to the story, i've hardly begun. the notable story, the story that's never been told in this book of significance is how harry brought to a conclusion the most important, the haroldest-fought strategic debate -- the hardest fought strategic-debate of the war, and that was the decision to invade north africa in 1942 instead of
doing what marshall and eisenhower and everyone else wanted to do in the military which was to go into western france east in 942 -- either in 1942 or wait until 943. and, of course, they went into north africa, and that's had geopolitical ramifications that resonate today. so let me be just -- time's up. let me just close by paraphrasing a few words from the end of the book. in the end, the word that comes closest in my view to capturing the quality that enabled harry to succeed was touch, a little touch of harry in the night. the two of them, shakespeare's king harry who was disguised and became one with the troops in the night before the battle, and harry hopkins who bonded with the leaders of the united
states, great britain and the soviet union, the two of them had a gift for connecting. for stalin it was -- [speaking in native tongue] , according to the soul. and to churchill, he was a crumbling lighthouse. to roosevelt, hopkins gave his life asking for nothing except to serve. and so they were the happy, they were all happy, and he was, he was part of that group. thank you. so -- [applause] oh, he's pouring the wine. >> if you have questions, please go, to the microphone in the center. thank you.
>> uh-oh. [laughter] >> yes, their on. >> this is not going to be a brilliant question, i can assure you. i was just wondering whether there's any evidence -- >> can't hear you. >> not much i can do about you, i think this is on. [inaudible conversations] is there any evidence that before he died harry hopkins had any concerns or fears about the soviet union in the post-war period? >> yeah, great question. after roosevelt died, well, harry was at yalta. he was at all the wartime conferences, casablanca, tehran, yalta. so he knew everything that went on. the day of roosevelt's funeral which was a saturday, april 14th, 1945, harry was recalled from the mayo clinic where he
was, again, recuperating. they flew him back, and truman wanted to see him s and he saw him at noon the day of roosevelt's funeral. roosevelt's funeral was in the afternoon. and, of course, truman knew nothing about anything. so hopkins was among the first people that truman had to spend a lot of time with, and hopkins, of course, filled him in about all of the deliberations leading up to the yalta agreements. and then things began spinning apart, you know, shortly after truman took office. molotov was causing all kinds of trouble at the u.n. organizing conference in san francisco, and there were polish underground people being arrested and so forth. so truman sent hopkins b to
moscow. this was his last mission. he was quite sick. so he took his -- but he took his third wife with him, and her job was to administer the medications and keep him off the brandy. she'd nicknamed the plane that they flew over to moscow the flying boudoir. that's louise macy, she was a character. so they arrived in moscow, and harry actually spent seven or eight days meeting with stalin to try to figure out why everything was falling apart. and stalin had an opportunity to give him, to really lay out all of his grievances about the united states, among them being the united states abruptly cut off all the lend-lease aid the minute the germans surrendered to russia. and roosevelt -- stalin was not
at all happy about that. and so the issue was, the primaryish had to do with the -- primary issue had to do with the organization of the polish goth and who would be in that government. and the yalta agreements were as elastic and as loose as they could possibly be. all the yalta agreement said was that stalin was supposed to reorganize the polish government which left it wide open as to what he was going to do. and, of course, stalin, stalin was viscerally -- the only ting he cared about was protecting his borders. he didn't care about theup, he didn't care about -- well, he cared about reparations, but that was not his primary concern. primary concern was territorial protection, security for his country. and so they went back and forth on that. hopkins got nowhere really on the issue of the polish
government. they had arrested 16 polish underground people. hopkins tried to get them freed, stalin said, no, we're going to try them, but i'll be lenient. hopkins got the best press he ever got when he returned from that mission in his whole life. everybody said he had done miracles. they got the problems of the u.n. solved. molotov backed off on making his trouble. but they never solved the polish question. on the way back, hopkins expressed his serious reservations about the future with stalin. and he regretted the fact that roosevelt was no longer around. the question was if roosevelt had lived, would anything have been different? roosevelt might have been able, unlike truman, roosevelt wouldn't have gotten backed into a corner or as truman often did and get into these shouting matches with moll to.
roosevelt -- molotov. roosevelt would have never done that. truman had this famous meeting with molotov in which he dismissed him from his office looking very tough. roosevelt would have treated him differently. my guess is, though, that had hopkins lived and had roosevelt -- hopkins died in 1946 early, so he was gone. but had they lived, i suspect it still would have been, it still would have gone that way. it just would have taken longer perhaps. but i don't think had they lived, there would be no cold war. george cannon was in the embassy when hopkins arrived on that last mission in june of 1945. and george cannon said to hopkins before he went in to talk to stalin, he said, socially, don't try to negotiate poland. it's not going to work. just back off, you know?
you going to -- you're going to pick more trouble for yourself getting embroiled in this whole issue. stalin's not going to do it. and, of course, he was right. so that's the story. >> in the pre-tv era, can you comment? the public saw very little of roosevelt in a wheelchair. can you comment on what impact you think that might have had on the hopkins/roosevelt projection to the american public at that time? >> the fact that he was not shown in a wheelchair? you know, i don't know. yeah. all the newspaper people knew it. the public, you know, knew that he was, that he was not all there, but i don't know. i don't know what effect that would have had on -- had
everybody seen him in a wheelchair, had everybody seen hop kips at his -- hopkins at his worst, i think they would have, yeah. had they ever seen 40 hopkins, how he looked a good deal of the time, they would have said get him out of here. because he was a very sick man. now, roosevelt in the final months, when he arrived at yalta, everyone commented that, you know, churchill said he has a slender contact with life. and everyone commented that he just looked like he was, you know, in his last days. but on the other hand, all the commentators that were at yalta said his mind was fine, that he negotiated the way he ordinary negotiated, but he just looked like he was on death's door. hopkins was in bed at yalta except for the plenary sessions.
but for, what, eight or nine days he was in his bedroom. everybody came to his bedroom. and doris kearns goodwin said he knew better than anybody what have -- what was going on, but he just appeared at the plenary conferences. one of the interesting things is the state department. the state department was basically out of the picture during these wartime conferences. they didn't invite, in fact, they disinvited secretary of state hall from all of those meetings, and then hall resigned after the election in 1944. and harry hopkins hand picked the new secretary of state. it was his guy who many thought was sort of a stuffed shirt, a suit. and he did get invited and sat at the table at yalta.
just aside. one other, you know, the great book, the magnificent book, the majestic book about p hop kips was written in 1948 by robert sherwood. it won the pulitzer prize. and i talk a lot about that at the beginning of my book. and, you know, my book could no way supplant that book. it still is a terrific piece of work. but it was written in 1948. and so, obviously, there's tons of documents, tons of diaries, huge amounts of his tore yoking my that have come to light since that time. but i just wanted to kind of mention that book as another just wonderful, wonderful source. it's called "roosevelt and hopkins: an intimate portrait."
>> [inaudible] >> hopkins' position on the atom bomb. he was involved in setting up the committees from the very beginning with roosevelt andture andture -- churchill and deliberated over the relationship between great britain and the united states in terms of who would have the secrets and how they would be shared. but in terms of the decision to drop the bomb, that was, of course, made by truman and disclosed to stalin at the potsdam conference after hopkins had come back from his mission to moscow. hopkins had nothing to do with that decision. i'm not even -- i don't know whether he was told in advance. by that time he was back from
moscow, it was july of 1945. he was then getting ready to resign from the government, and, you know, interestingly just in terms of the remainder of his life he and his wife wanted to go back to new york city. and so he got a kind of a interrim, a part-time job with the ladies' garment workers' union as some sort of a mediator. but it would pay him so much. but he really wanted to write a couple of books. so they, this is incredible. so they're house hunting in new york city, and they end up renting a six-story mansion on central park, 1025 fifth avenue, and it looked right across at the museum.
and i asked diana, his daughter daughter -- harry didn't have any money. i mean, any money he had went right out the door. and louise was a working woman. she was a fashion editor. so how did they afford this? and diana said i'll bet my bottom dollar it was avril herriman who bankrolled that. so he lived in this mansion on fifth avenue. he entertained his friends. but he slowly faded in the fall of 1945. bernard pa rook was one of his -- baa rook was one of his favorite card-playing partners during the final days, and then he went into the hospital, and he died in january of -- right at the end of january 1945, and
his funeral was at st. bartholomew's church on fifth avenue. i'm sorry, hi. yeah. >> what was hopkins' relationship to tugwell and other members of roosevelt's brain trust? >> yeah. what was his relationship with rexford tugwell and probably ray moley and the others who were in the sort of new deal brain trust. he wasn't part of the brain trust. you know, he came in to really head up the jobs programs. he did meet occasional ri with -- occasionally with sort of that rump group over at the department of agriculture. he obviously knew them all. he was close to felix frankfurter. his guys know -- the people who really worked with him were oscar cox and isadore rubin.
he was very close to frances perkins. frances perkins helped him get his job. oh, hey, nancy. >> congratulations. you talked a little bit about corps dell hall and the extraordinary situation with hopkins kind of being the, i guess, in a unique position in foreign policy, national security apparatus. but that must have been, i mean, today that would be very controversial. >> right. >> was it controversial? >> well, hopkins was, hopkins himself was a lightning rod for criticism, and he was concerned to be a rahs putin, you know? -- pass tiewnt, you know? he was putting evil thoughts into roosevelt's head. so was it controversial that he would have all those positions? yeah. he had too much power. he was the only civilian other than -- well, roosevelt wasn't a civilian, i guess. he was the only civilian admitted into the map room. they set up a map room in the
white house where all the cables came in from all over the world on the national security issues. he was the only guy admitted into go in there anytime he wanted to. so he was, you know, he was hated by the conservatives of the country at the time. there were, you know, the chicago -- the newspapers, the chicago trib and sissy patterson's newspaper here in washington, the "the washington post," routinely printed all kinds of scurrilous things. and hop kips, he was thin-skinned, you know? despite all the criticism, he was thin-skinned. particularly when they made allegations dweps his wife about taking jewels from lord beaverberg, which she did. [laughter] not the jewels they said she took, but some other ones. but, yeah, i mean, he, he was --
i mean, and when they reorganized the state department after hall left, he was very, very severely criticized for packing it with his people, which he did. and, you know, basically chose the secretary of state. roosevelt, you know, said fine. so, yeah. and you say, well, could there be somebody like that today? we need somebody like that today that has -- [laughter] pardon me? >> what got you interested in writing about harry hopkins? >> because i saw how he cut the legs out from under another guy that i wrote about, the first book i wrote sort of an obscure character named louis johnson. louis johnson was a representative that the president sent to india to try
to negotiate a deal with the aind yangs -- indians so that they would defend their country against the japanese in exchange for independence. and hopkins cut him off at the knees one night in a conversation with churchill. so i saw, you know, the kind of razor-sharp elbows that he had, and i got interested in him from that one. >> all right. let's take one b last question here. >> yeah. >> definitely a japanese attack of pearl harbor hadn't triggered the u.s. industry into the world war, my question's hypothetical, i guess. how do you think the relationship between roosevelt and hopkins, churchill and britain would have developed? was there any memoranda or diaries that indicated? because it was a pretty hard sell to get the u.s -- >> and roosevelt was us from i traitingly -- frustratingly, he
drove everybody crazy because, you know, without the pearl harbor attack he was moving back, he would move a step forward toward belligerency with the germans, and then he would move back. he would never get ahead of american opinion very far. and, you know, he would make a speech about, okay, now it's a national emergency when we have this attack on this destroyer, and then the next day he would say, oh, that's nothing, and he pulled back. and it drove hopkins -- he didn't write anything down. but now know that it drove -- but you know that it drove him nuts. so whether, you know, whether without that attack -- what probably would have happened is they would have provoked an incident with the, on the high seas with the germans that just could not be ignored.
and one or the other would declare war. that's probably what would have happened. because there were a series of incidents on the high seas, and we kept thinking, or you kept thinking as i was reading this, oh, the germans are going to declare war over this, or roosevelt will go to congress and declare -- but congress was a real problem, and he would not go to congress unless he had the votes. and he wasn't, you know, he didn't have the votes. i think a big incident would have had to have happened. and what was amazing is that, you know, most people don't know this, but we were attacked by the japanese, of course, he went and asked for a declaration of war against japan. and then the question was, okay, well, what about germany? and are we going to declare war on germany? and so there was three or four
days of suspense. because roosevelt was waiting for hitler to make the move, and hitler had to come back from the eastern front and talk to his people. but he did not -- hitler was not obligated under the axis pact to declare war on us when the japanese attacked. he had no obligation to do that. but he did it. and some historians have said that was his biggest mistake. because if he hadn't declared war, roosevelt then would have to figure out how to get congress to declare war against germany. and everybody, of course, wanted to go to the pacific. >> okay. well, thank you so much. [applause]